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Tuesday 19 June 2018

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Kiran Paul

Before I began my internship I knew that I had a good knowledge of what a public relations practitioner should know and do, but I didn't know if I could put that education to work. Luckily, I got my first-hand experience in the “real world” at the Voice of America Public Relations office. The practical experience that I gained at VOA is essential to develop skills that aren’t learned in the classroom.

Throughout my internship I performed duties such as writing articles and social media drafts, which were challenging initially, but the PR team guided me through every step. Giving tours improved my public speaking immensely and I had the opportunity to interact with a diverse audience. Prior to giving my first tour I was extremely anxious, but when I started talking to the audience I forgot how nervous I was. I even gave two group tours that had more than 20 people each without hesitation!

I enjoyed meeting VOA employees from different nationalities and learning about their experiences. I visited several language services such as Urdu, Mandarin, and Spanish. I also sat in on a few radio and television shows which were amazing because I got to see what goes on behind-the-scenes. I attended events hosted by VOA such as the Boko Haram: Journey from Evil documentary premiere at the United States Institute of Peace.

My main project for the fall was constructing a map for the VOA website. The map identified VOA reporters, bureaus, transmitters, affiliates and FM frequencies. This project involved a lot of time and research. I contacted different language services and various employees from VOA to find information and many times I went to see them personally. Furthermore, I entered all the data with appropriate icons and labels. After all the hard work, “VOA Around the World” was finally displayed on the website!

Everyone in the PR office has been very supportive and kind. They were always ready to answer any questions or concerns I had. The best thing about the PR office is that they treat you as an integral part of the team and value new ideas. I highly recommend interning with VOA PR because they dedicate their time and resources to help you improve as a professional and make your internship experience unique.

Andrew Slate

My time at Voice of America (VOA) has been a deeply fulfilling experience. Like most United States citizens, I had heard very little about our government’s international broadcasting service, merely murmurs from older generations about the role it played in World War II, or how it once penetrated the Iron Curtain to bring truth to oppressed peoples. I later learned that my unfamiliarity with VOA was by design; written into law to prevent the perception of propaganda, lest the organization be used as a tool against its citizens. In my hours spent working within the historic Cohen building, researching the endeavors of directors past, and leading studio tours to the public, I learned to appreciate the quiet influence that Voice of America has had in shaping our image abroad for over 75 years.

Through my main project, drafting bios of VOA’s eclectic group of past directors, I assumed the role of a historian, researching and compiling bits and pieces of information to build a better picture of how these men and women impacted the organization, and in turn, helped shape the United States’ international public image. This project gave me a better understanding of the history and importance of VOA, and the kernels of information I found provided context for new discoveries to be made. I learned of John Houseman, VOA’s first director, who was an Academy Award winning actor, acclaimed radio broadcaster and highly successful director to boot. I also researched Robert Button, an accomplished diplomat so inspired by music and cultural exchange that he created new radio programing to emphasize that content. I even went as far as speaking with his daughter, a university professor with her own unique perspective to give on her father’s legacy.

One of my favorite experiences within this internship was the opportunity to accompany the news team during the State of the Union Address. Set up in the Russel Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol, we caught the attention of representatives and senators to ask their thoughts on the address and the Trump presidency. It was a pleasure to work with a D.C.-based news organization during such a significant time in U.S. political history, which included two brief government shutdowns.

Without the support of my manager, Michelle, and the rest of the Public Relations team, including Bridget, Anna, Julia, George, and Nigel, I would not have had the wonderful experience that I did these past ten weeks. I am grateful for my time with Voice of America, and will look back fondly on my experience in the UCDC program.

About Andrew

Andrew is a fourth-year undergraduate student at the University of California, Santa Cruz, working towards a degree in Business Management Economics with a minor in Technology and Information Management. With previous experience in public and media relations, product marketing, and content creation, he hopes to kick-start a career in communications after graduation, with a focus in biotechnology, health care, or politics.

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